Updated: 16-Jun-2004 NATO Speeches


15 June 2004

Public Diplomacy for NATO's Istanbul Summit

Video interview with Dr. Stefanie Babst,
Head of NATO Countries Section, Public Diplomacy Division

NATO Istanbul Summit
- 28-29 June 2004
Video interview
Audio file .MP3/2737Kb

Q: Stefanie Babst, you are co-ordinating some of NATO's Public Diplomacy Division's activities ahead of the upcoming Summit meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government. Thank you for taking the time out of these preparations to talk to us about what's being planned.

First of all, there are a number of major public events planned alongside and on the margins of this Summit. Could you tell us a little bit about these events?

Stephanie Babst: Well, I guess that a high level event such as a Summit, or a ministerial should always go hand in hand with a good public diplomacy campaign. And as a matter of fact we started our public diplomacy campaign already some time ago, while creating a number of activities, seminars, high level conferences in Allied countries, as well as in Brussels here in order to lay the public ground, but also a little bit the political ground for the actual Summit at Istanbul.

In Istanbul itself we have planned for seven events, seven activities, as well as for our routine activities, which include, of course, a full-fledged publications program, as well as a website program, as well as various activities for the media that we expect for the Istanbul Summit.

For the Summit itself you will see the visit of the NATO naval forces to the Bosphorus. We made arrangements for especially journalists, I mean, to go onboard of these ships in order to have a look at NATO's modern naval military capabilities.

We have, in addition, made arrangements for a, I think, very interesting exhibition featuring NATO's Response Force, as well as Allied Command Transformation, showing basically, I mean, that NATO is in the midst of also transforming itself materially.

At the same time on the side we're going to have an exhibition featuring NATO's science projects, as well as civil emergency planning capabilities. We also would like to underpin that this is a very important aspect of NATO's current transformation process, so we hope to attract also interest by the media and by the overall public to these exhibitions.

The science exhibition, as well as the civil emergency planning exhibition will go hand in hand with the granting of a NATO Summit Science Prize. In that respect we have picked two very prominent and very successful Turkish think tanks who have for a long time already done research on various science-related projects, together with us, together with NATO, and that's why we would like to grant them a special prize, and the Secretary General himself will be granting the prize, together with a member of the Turkish Government.

Among the series of events will also be a high level conference that will be held on the margins of the actual political Summit. That high level conference will bring together roughly speaking 150-180 strategic thinkers, security experts from both Canada, the United States, as well as various European countries, in order to discuss the Summit agenda, and also the future of the Alliance.

Among the speakers rank really a couple of prominent names. We have managed to invite the German Foreign Minister Fischer, to address the conference, the French Foreign Minister Barnier will address the conference, the Afghan President Karzai will address the conference. So just to name a few. It will really be, I think, a very interesting and also very high level event, that will also partly be open to the public.

Last, but not least, we have made arrangements for also a very interesting activity, I think, namely a Youth Summit, which is called Istanbul Pan-Atlantic Student Summit, and this event will somewhat be a parallel Summit because students from roughly speaking 46 countries, both Allied countries and partner countries, were invited to come to Istanbul and to meet with Alliance leaders to basically discuss with them the future of the Alliance and the Istanbul Summit agenda, as well as to, in a second part, conduct a NATO simulation exercise.

So this, in particular, I think, is a very interesting and also very lively example of our public diplomacy activity.

And last, but not least, this is going to be the seventh event. You will see in Istanbul the change of command ceremony of the NATO Response Force, that also will be open to the public.

Q: But of course, these events are not part of the formal Summit and agenda. What is their basic aim and goal?

Babst: Well, of course, we have designed the public diplomacy campaign for the NATO Istanbul Summit in terms of making it... making the Summit as much as transparent to the overall public, reaching out to the public and explaining to the public, in particular of course, the media, why the Summit is important, what actually will be achieved at the Summit and what are the results of the Summit.

So we try, I mean, to have this public diplomacy as close and as interlinked to the official Summit as possible to it.

Q: The next question is simple. You mention that these events are open to the public. Can anyone take part?

Babst: Well I mean, in particular, if you're an accredited journalist, I mean, you of course can take part in these public diplomacy activities, and if you're a participant to either the conference or the I-PASS, the Youth Summit, I mean, you're of course welcome to come along to Istanbul and participate.

In that sense, unfortunately not everybody, I mean, can take part, but those that we have invited to participate in one of the other events will definitely be there.

Just to give you an example, I mean, as far as the Youth Summit is concerned we have asked all national chapters of the Atlantic Treaty Associations to recruit students. The average would be five per country. In some countries more students will be coming, but... so these students have carefully been selected upon a range of all the national chapters of Atlantic Treaty Association, both in Allied countries and in partner countries.

Q: You mentioned the Youth Summit, which is of course, aimed at students. Why is this audience important to NATO?

Babst: Well, evidently NATO's Public Diplomacy Division works very closely with students, with the younger generation in general terms, so this is not the first time that we have reached out to the younger generation. But for a political event, an important political event such as a Summit, I think it's particularly interesting and important to reach out to the younger generation, to the generation of tomorrow's leaders, of probably even the Alliance leaders, in order to encourage them debating security issues, and to demonstrate that NATO's important, NATO matters, and their encouragement, and their involvement in NATO matters is welcome, is wanted.

As part of the I-PASS, of the international youth summit, we're also planning for a NATO simulation exercise, encouraging the students to actually 'play' a NATO decision and to by this get somehow a feeling for how it is to, at the end of the day, take a decision as an Alliance member.

Q: Do you expect events like this to form, from now on, a regular part of major NATO meetings, like Summits?

Babst: Yes, very much. In the past you've seen some Summits who had parts of a Public Diplomacy campaign attached to the actual event, but in Istanbul this is really the first time that we have a full-fledged public diplomacy campaign on the ground and it's important, I think, to really use as many communication tools and means as possible, apart from routine activities such as press programs and website activities and publication activities, in order to reach out to the public to inform them about the summit and its results, and to encourage people to stay as close as possible to the event.

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